Enlightenment Pocketed

Lotus Koan.
Image by Marek Studzinski from Pixabay.

“The enjoyment of art is an act of recreation, or rather of creation in the reverse direction, towards the source of intuition, i.e., an act of absorption, in which we lose our small self in the creative experience of a greater universe.”

Anagarika B. Govinda

I happen to have a small sweet book titled Art & Meditation (actually a few years back I took it from my brother), written by Lama Anagarika B. Govinda – an artist, a Buddhist monk, traveller and writer.

Sharing his paintings, poems and thoughts with us, he talks about the ineffaceable, elusive yet real, sublimely beautiful link between art and meditation; how true art merges with true religion and vice-versa.

It is not digressive or sluggishly cumbersome, this thought, rather it is stimulating for the one who is not in a hurry.

The author wishes his essays and artwork to serve as koans i.e. ‘meditative problems’ for his readers that churn our thoughts and act as an impetus for continuing the search.

I have gone through this insightful book twice now. What struck me this time was its size, how come Lama Anagarika Govinda’s lectures on art and meditation along with his artwork were capsuled in such a tiny book?

Of course, there must be other collections of his essays and pictures, surely in not-so-tiny a book.

But here I would intentionally turn this coincidence into a grand undertaking and happily say something ambitious.

This beautiful book holds, yes-yes it does, the secret to enlightenment and simply because of its humble, calm and forgiving nature, affordable price, elucidations of the artwork and colour schemes given and the profound ideas shared.

With these balmy thoughts, I will read this book again in the near future for then it will reveal a new secret to me.

Leaving you with an edifying thought –

“Art in itself is a sort of a paradox, a Koan in the deepest sense of the word, and that is why the followers of Zen prefer it to all other mediums of expression. For only the paradox escapes the dilemma of logical limitation, of partiality and one-sidedness. It cannot be bound down to principles or conceptual definitions, because it exaggerates or abstracts intentionally in such a way that it is impossible to take it literally: its meaning is beyond the incongruity of the words.”

Anagarika B. Govinda

Enlightenment, Pocketed-
Calm mind beams
Together with the heart.

– Haiku – Jagriti Rumi

Also read other posts on art and meditation –


I wish to SEE Tibet

Thunderous Applause… And the Warli Drama Unfolds

कलाकार/ Artist

Transient Permanence

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Behind All That Twinkling


This is a story of the Star People who lived far away on a beautiful star named Blue Blink. There is a reason why it was called so. The land of that place flashed a blue light since time immemorial. The Star People acquired energy from this radiant land and it supported everyone’s life. It was a very happy place, as all the Star People were satisfied with their lives. There was only one law in that place and that was the Law of Sharing. It was a rule, more of a habit, for the Star People to share their things, their feelings, and their lives with each person on the Blue Blink Star. Everyone knew everyone.

They worked and ate together, studied and played together, all the buildings were connected and so they also shared their houses. They knew nothing about anger, greed or ego. Though they understood death, they never shed a tear while biding goodbye to their fellow Star Mates, as they believed that their late friend would merge with the radiant land of the Blue Blink and still remain in touch with them. One who died on the Blue Blink Star was never forgotten; they celebrated a day, each week, in remembrance and in dedication to the dead ones. One could always hear songs and laughter from the Blue Blink Star as every animate and inanimate part of it enjoyed themselves and danced in the spirit of love and sharing.

One day a child refused to share his book with his friend on the Blue Blink Star. How could this happen? It was a bizarre act and the child’s parents didn’t know what to do. There were many books on the Blue Blink Star but each had only one copy, as people always shared it and mostly read it together. Soon the news spread everywhere that on the land of Blue Blink Star a child had refused to obey the law. It gave birth to a monstrous wave and everyone started disobeying the law. No governments or rulers ran that place. The administration was run by handful of volunteers, but things got imbalanced then. The Star People for the first time in their history came across the feeling called ego. Wherever the wave reached, that place lost its radiant blue light. A catastrophe had hit the happy people of Blue Blink.

There lived a Monk on Blue Blink Star. Everyone called him the Quiet Monk, as he never spoke to anyone but only meditated on a spot. Still he obeyed the Law of Sharing as the place where he sat was the most radiant on the Star. People weak or sick took energy from that spot and thus he helped others in this unique way. He had never opened his eyes, he simply sat and meditated and smiled. Now his spot was the only place which was left with any radiance on the Star, the only energy source. When all the Star People gathered around him, he opened his eyes and stood up. Everyone was shocked as the Quiet Monk spoke for the first time. He said, ‘I would like to meet the child who refused to share.’ His harmless and rather sweet piercing voice was heard by all, even who stood at the very end. The child came forward, he didn’t look afraid but his parents were, because ego gave birth to such feelings like fear.

The Quiet Monk asked him, ‘Is the story very interesting?’ All including the child were clueless for a minute and then the child replied with an exciting smile, ‘Yes! Very interesting! Do you know when the superhero enters with a bang…’ and saying this much the child went silent as everyone around him were looking at him blankly. ‘No…I don’t know how interesting it is, and neither I nor anyone, including your friends, will ever know how good the book is. And you will also not enjoy the book to the fullest because you can’t talk about it with anyone for no one would know what you are talking about’, said the Quiet Monk. The child was quiet like all the Star People. The child, looking down, then said, ‘I… didn’t know so…’

The Quiet Monk smiled when the child said so. Then he spoke, ‘Everyone, please listen to what I have to say. The Law of Sharing is the greatest law in the Universe, sharing means increasing of whatever you have; as you followed it till now you faced no problem, every individual shared everything with the other including himself, this pure and selfless act made you closer to the radiant land of our Star, you all took energy easily from it and used it for the good of all. As and when you stopped, the pure and selfless connection was lost.’ The Star People were speechless after hearing this.

Before they could say anything, the Quiet Monk added, ‘Life is lived to the fullest if lived for others. It is only the Law of Sharing which promises true happiness. If the feeling of sharing dies, life loses its most essential flavour and becomes bland.’ A realization had struck all, the child was sorry as were the rest and with tears mixed of shame and rejoice they hugged each other. First thing they did after this was sharing a forgiving speech within their now awakened group… and then laughing together. Since then no one questioned the Law of Sharing and the Blue Blink Star continued shining and twinkling forever.


I looked at the kids, who expected something more but I said, ‘Kids that’s the end.’  I knew Jim and Esha would not say anything, they were too young but Leon was in seventh standard and was a studious kid, I expected some remark from him. He did speak after thinking for a minute and said, ‘Uncle Sheldon we have read in our class that stars twinkle or shine because of refraction caused by small-scale fluctuations in air density….’ Here I interrupted, ‘Leon you are out here in the open for a camp and you can see the sky shining with millions of stars, with millions of stories not known to us and all you can think of is this definition that your science teacher told you to memorize? Didn’t you like the story?’ Leon replied, ‘I liked it… but it is imaginary.’

I was shocked to hear that, what are schools teaching the kids these days, only to learn facts and to discard imagination? I told Leon and little Jim and Esha who looked enchanted by the starry sky (not bothered by my and Leon’s conversation), ‘Listen you three, imagination is as important as studying the facts. Just see my imagination took you to that Blue Blink Star over there.’ Hearing the last sentence, both Emily and Jack suppressed Leon’s another technical question and shouted in chorus, ‘Which one Uncle Sheldon?’ I took my telescope and adjusted it in such an angle that a bright blue star was visible twinkling. Jim and Esha pushed each other to see the Blue Blink Star first. In few seconds Leon joined them too.